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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
GA 4

This book, written in 1894, is a fundamental treatment of Steiner's philosophical outlook. Together with Truth and Science and The Riddles of Philosophy it might be considered as one third of a philosophical trilogy. The emphasis of the book is not on “freedom” as ordinarily understood, but is on “freiheit” or what might be termed freeness, or freehood. This freeness is a self-starting, self-directing activity of a spiritual sort. Here, the term “spiritual” is used in a sense not incompatible with the use of the word in the tradition of the German idealistic school of philosophy. It was originally published in German as, Die Philosophie der Freiheit. Grundzuege einer modernen Weltanschauung. Seelische Beobachtungsresultate nach naturwissenschaftlicher Methode.

The Philosophy of Freedom (1916)

This is the first English translation and the only one sanctioned by Rudolf Steiner himself. Joint translators Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé were selected for their outstanding qualifications. First published in 1916, it is based on the original 1894 German Die Philosophie der Freiheit Other translations have been based on the 1918 revised German edition. It includes inspiring passages about individualism that were removed from the book in 1918 and are missing in later translations: “We no longer believe that there is a norm to which we must all strive to conform. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. The saying ‘Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus’ no longer holds for us. If only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development.

The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1949)

This edition was published by Rudolf Steiner Publications, London, 1949, with 220 pp. It is the sixth edition, based on the original authorized Translation by Prof. and Mrs. R. F. Alfred Hoernlé, revised and amended by Hermann Poppelbaum, Phil.D.

The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1963)

This edition was published by Rudolf Steiner Publications, Inc., New York, 1963, with 411 pp. It is translated from the 2nd German edition of 1918 by Rita Stebbing, and is bound together with Truth and Knowledge.

The Philosophy of Freedom (1964)

Steiner's groundbreaking philosophical work on the nature of freedom and thinking. This edition was published by Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1964, 1970, 1972, 1979, with 230 pp. This seventh English edition, was translated from the 12th German edition of 1962, and with an Introduction by Michael Wilson.

The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1986)

This volume is a translation of Die Philosophie der Freiheit, published by the Anthroposophic Press, New York. The German volume is number four in the Collected Edition of Rudolf Steiner's works. It was translated by William Lindeman. The cover Graphic Form is by Rudolf Steiner (originally as a study for the book Truth and Science). Layout and lettering by Peter Stebbing.

Die Philosophie der Freiheit

Das grundlegende Werk Steiners über das Erkennen und die menschliche Freiheit. Die Philosophie der Freiheit beweist, daß der Mensch der Freiheit — des selbstbestimmten Denkens und Handelns — fähig ist. Die Philosophie der Freiheit ist mehr als ein philosophisches Buch: sie ist ein Schulungsweg, der den Leser zur Erfahrung des lebendigen Denkens und zur Bewußtwerdung seines Geistes führt. Aus der Selbsterkenntnis des menschlichen Geistes geht eine Erneuerung des Handelns und damit der Welt hervor.